Don’t Get Lost in Search: 3 Local SEO Tips to Improve Your Listings
What’s the first thing people do when they have a plumbing emergency after they’ve turned off the water? They pull their phone out of their pocket or log onto their computer and search for a local plumber. Would customers in need of your business’s services or products be able to find you when needed? Ensure that you show up in local search results with these local SEO tips to improve your listing.
SEO vs. Local SEO
Before diving into our local SEO tips, start by making sure you know the difference between SEO and local SEO. There is a difference.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of making your website as optimized as possible. It assures that the website meets the requirements needed to rank high on search engine result pages (SERPs) while ensuring that the web site’s traffic is relevant to your business. Your website may be competing with dozens or more businesses, but proper SEO techniques can assist with where yours ends up in SERPs. The higher the rank (position on the results page), the more likely it is to be clicked.
Local SEO is simply SEO targeting focused on your local area. That area can be as big or as small as you need it to be.
Why Is Local SEO Important?
One of the keys to reaching quality potential customers is by making sure they can find you. Consider the plumber example earlier. When you start typing in the search engine, are you more inclined to search for “plumbers in the United States”? While that may provide several well-known plumbing organizations, you’d be best served by searching closer to home with “plumbers in (location).” In fact, many searchers look for “plumbers near me” to find a local plumber. By making sure your local SEO is exemplary, potential local clients can find you in their time of need.
Local SEO Tip 1: Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
It might seem odd to you that our first tip doesn’t involve your website, but when it comes to local SEO, Google My Business (GMB) is a powerful, yet often overlooked element. Though Google isn’t the only search engine out there, it accounts for about 88% of the search engine market share in the United States and 92% worldwide, making your Google My Business listing an essential tool for local SEO.
If You Haven’t Already, Create a Google My Business Account
Your Google My Business page is a full listing of your business, which shows up on Google and Google Maps searches. It has information about your business relevant to potential customers, including your website, location, services or products, business hours, reviews, photos, and other customers’ questions.
If you do not already have a GMB account, begin by creating and filling out your My Business account, and claim your business. Once you have filled out all the information, you need to get your page verified. Receiving verification requires you to receive a postcard from Google with a unique code on it that will need to be entered into your My Business account. This process confirms that the location in your business listing is actually yours.
Fill Out Your Google My Business Page
Ownership of your Google My Business account isn’t the only thing you need to do. You also need to make sure that your information is optimized and up to date. Don’t forget things like:
- Reviewing that the photos related to your business and those posted by customers are accurate representations of your business
- Confirm your open and close times are correct, especially around the holidays when businesses hours tend to fluctuate
- Choose primary and secondary categories that relate to your business
- Respond to negative and positive reviews (we’ll touch more on this later)
- Answer questions made by existing and potential customers
You can also share content on your GMB page, similar to a social media account. The content you post on your page will show up when people search for your business, but these posts are only around for about a week. Luckily, it does not hurt your ranking to repeat posts made on your GMB page, so though we don’t suggest posting the same thing every time, you can cycle through updates as needed.
Consistency Is Key
Any time you find yourself making a significant change to your website or social media pages, you need to make sure that your Google My Business page is updated to match it as well. We suggest taking a look at your Google My Business page weekly to make sure all your information is up to date, and then post your content. This need for consistency actually leads perfectly to our next local SEO tip.
Local SEO Tip 2: Create a Citation Site Strategy
A citation site strategy and ensuring your business information is uniform across them is the next local SEO tip on our list. Here’s the 411 on what you need to know about creating a citation site strategy.
What Are Citations?
In SEO, a citation is a mention of your business on the internet. Specifically, your business’s name, address, and phone number, also known as your NAP. Without any of one of these, your citation is considered only a partial citation. You might notice that a link to your website isn’t necessary for a citation. Though a link to your website is ALWAYS more valuable than not, citations are still useful without a web link. When including a link, you might see references to UNAP or NAPW, used when discussing citations that have your URL or Website attached.
Types of Citations
There are two types of citation listings: structured and unstructured.
A structured citation is when your NAP is in a business listing directory. Some outstanding universal examples of these are Yelp, Facebook, Apple Maps, and Foursquare. Don’t forget about more niche listing directories that may relate to your business, such as Angie’s List for service related business or Lawyers.com for attorneys.
Alternatively, unstructured citations are where your NAP is mentioned anywhere else on the internet. More often than not, this will be your business being mentioned in a news article or on another site’s blog.
Why Are Citations Important?
Citations are essential for SEO because they allow you to reap the benefits of being included on those trusted sites, which often results in a higher SERPs. It also places your site on those highly trafficked, trusted websites for potential customers to find. Having consistent information across all locations shows search engines that your business is credible and popular, leading to a lift in your SERP ranking.
Review My Business
Although we’ve referenced the importance of reviews in GMB in our Google-focused world, Google isn’t the only way people review local businesses. The review systems on citation sites are critically important and must be monitored since users provide feedback with these reviews to other potential customers. Though an occasional poor review won’t hurt your ranking, it can affect your positioning if there are a large number of negative reviews. We suggest keeping an eye on all of these regularly and responding to positive and negative reviews when possible.
Local SEO Tip 3: Geo-Targeted Content
Here’s where we return to talking about your website; If you want to help local people find you, make sure that your website often references your location.
Is your business a brick-and-mortar store with several locations? Then it would be best if you made sure that each store has its own page on your website. These pages should have not only the specific location’s NAP and a keyword-heavy content block located on them but also an embedded Google Map. Make sure that the exact content on these pages is not the same for both locations. Duplicated blurbs will hurt your ranking.
If your business only has one location, make sure your content on that location page is still keyword heavy.
Blogs are valuable tools for SEO, so make sure that you have a strategy for mentioning your location in blogs. Use location-based keywords, and make sure to link back to your location pages when you can. Case study type blogs, focusing on significant wins you have had for clients, are also an option. These can also feature some of those reviews discussed in our last SEO tip!
Ready Set, SE-GO!
Now that you know the top tips for local SEO, it’s time to get to work and watch your ranking rise.